- Great battery life
- USB 3.0 hub on the keyboard
- Solid performance of the Intel Bay Trail processor
- Affordable price
- Insufficient display resolution
- Plastic body and keyboard
- No rear-facing camera
- Unpolished keyboard touchpad
Quick TakeThe Asus TransformerBook T100 is perfect for users with basic computing needs that want the flexibility of a convertible notebook without the steep price tag.
On one hand, the Asus Transformer Book T100 can be seen as the successor of the Asus VivoTab (now with Windows 8.1), or, on the other hand, as a cheaper match for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2, where the dock and keyboard take on the role of Type Cover. With its 10.1-inch 1366 x 768-pixel IPS display, Intel 1.3GHz quad-core “Bay Trail” Atom processor, 2GB of RAM, and 32 – 64GB of internal storage (which can be expanded with microSD cards), the tablet looks solid on paper. Still, compared to the Surface Pro 2, it has certain shortcomings.
Build and Design
Like the previous Asus Transformers, this is basically a tablet with a detachable keyboard. When the display and the keyboard are connected, the T100 becomes a notebook, albeit a small one.
The display and keyboard are covered with grey plastic and seem convincing when held. They can be detached by pushing the appropriate key above the keyboard with one hand and simply pulling the screen from its bed with the other.
Weighing 544 grams, the Transformer Book T100 is one of the lighter 10-inch tablets with Windows 8.1, however, its dimensions of 264 x 170 x 10.4 mm make it not one of the slimmer ones. Still, despite its proportions, the device leaves a convincing impression and is not as difficult to hold as it might seem at first. In short, it’s heavy enough to “eventually” feel uncomfortable when you’re holding it.
The entire device’s body has been crafted out of plastic with a slightly rough texture which makes the tablet cling to the palm easily (or any other surface). And thanks to the textured cover, it is easy to determine if you’re holding the tablet the wrong way up just by feeling it. Perhaps the device would leave a more convincing or modern impression if it were smooth or made out of aluminum (like the Asus VivoTab, for instance). However, this 2-in-1 is solid and compact enough for most tasks … and even though the T100 clearly isn’t built to “premium class” standards, it’s still an attractive laptop.
There is a 2-megapixel camera above the 10.1-inch display (it is not entirely centered, but slightly shifted to the right) and the capacitive Windows key is below the screen. It is a bit odd that the upper and bottom frame of the screen are visibly thicker than the left and right edge. In tablet mode, it seems a bit asymmetrical at first — but this does not affect its use and is an irrelevant aesthetic detail.
The T100’s edges curve towards the front, which is the best solution for devices that are more often used in hand than set up at a desk or on your lap. Because of this and the other device dimensions, the consumer may be motivated to use the Transformer Book T100 more frequently as a tablet and seldom as a notebook, connected to a physical keyboard.
Apart from the USB 3.0 port which is on the keyboard dock, all other connectors are lined up along the edges of the screen, i.e. the tablet. This includes the combined sound jacks, a micro-HDMI connector for external displays, and a micro-USB port for charging. The Asus T100 has no back-facing camera, which is not a slight shortcoming.
The Asus Transformer Book T100 comes with a 1366 x 768-pixel IPS display, which provides a humble pixel density of 148 ppi on a 10.1-inch diagonal. Still, the user interface of Windows 8.1, Microsoft Design Style (or Metro) looks exceptionally sharp with good contrast and vivid color on this display. The low pixel density favors the functionality of Windows desktop mode, given that the window edges, as well as the control key which manages the windows, are not too tiny to be “aimed at” with the tip of the finger (which can sometimes be the case with tablets of the same diagonal, yet greater resolution).
Still, when text in a smaller or slimmer font is displayed, the detail ceases to be sharp; letters have a clear teething or “jaggies” on sloped lines. The difference in relation to tablets with an evidently greater pixel density than the Transformer Book T100 is visible with the naked eye.
As far as the viewing angles go, there are no objections — the Transformer Book T100’s screen looks the same no matter how you look at it. The colors are expressive and the contrast is sustainable even when the device is exposed to direct sunlight. We can conclude that this Asus 2-in-1 has a display of above average quality … but the low resolution isn’t as good as some competitive models.
Anyone who did not like the Touch Cover or the Type Cover on Microsoft’s Surface models might be pleased with Asus’ keyboard for Transformer Book T100, however, despite being evidently better, it still includes many practical flaws. For starters, it is rather heavy and doubles the Transformer Book T100’s mass and equally doubles its thickness. It is entirely plastic, which matches the second ‘screen’ half of the device and again, contributes to the impression that this is not a top class device.
The display and the keyboard are detached when the appropriate key above the keyboard is pressed with one hand and the screen is simply pulled out from its bed with the other. When the keyboard is closed with the tablet, it automatically goes to stand-by and automatically turns on when it is opened, just like any other notebook.
Above all, the keyboard should be seen as a useful addition in this case, not something that will help you write a book on the Transformer Book T100. The small dimensions and tiny, densely grouped keys are ergonomically unfavorable for intense typing. On the other hand, it will do just fine for occasional chatting and writing shorter documents. The traditional function keys from the top row can be used to adjust the screen brightness, volume and for similar tasks.
The touchpad also deserves an equal amount of praise and objections, above all because it only supports certain finger swipes characteristic for multitouch. In other words, the user will have to raise their hand and touch the screen in order to perform some tasks, instead of doing them instinctively on the touchpad and this can be annoying or tiring. Still, compared to the Asus VivoTab, the touchpad has been increased in size a bit and is more practical.
The keyboard dock has a very useful full-sized USB 3.0 hub. An incredible array of peripheral devices can be connected via USB to this 2-in-1, like any printer, an additional USB hub, a mouse, even a larger keyboard.
Just like on Surface RT, the USB ports provide Asus’ Transformer Book T100 with great expandability compared to the iPad and tablets with Android OS. However, those people who primarily use the device as a tablet might have found the USB ports even more practical if they were located on the tablet itself and not the keyboard dock, as the case is with Surface. As a result, the tablet needs to be connected to the keyboard first for the USB hub to be used.